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The Truth about Antibiotics

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The Truth about Antibiotics
The Truth about Antibiotics

My baby is snotty and coughing and just miserable, but that stupid doctor won’t give her antibiotics!  Did I pick a bad doctor?

Well, I mean, maybe.  But not because of this.  Just because your little one seems really sick doesn’t mean an antibiotic will help.  In fact, it’s more likely to make you feel better than them.  Here’s why.

Most illnesses are caused by either bacteria or viruses.  For example, strep throat is caused by a nasty bacteria.  Colds and flu are caused by viruses.  So what?  This means a lot of differences to providers, but the most important difference to you is treatment.  We can cure most bacterial diseases with antibiotics, but we can’t do much for viruses.  What?!

The word “antibiotic” has 2 parts.  Anti means against.  Biotic means alive.  So antibiotics can only kill living things.  Bacteria are alive.  Viruses are not.  A virus is just a bunch of bundles of either DNA or RNA (DNA’s best buddy).  It’s just this weird thing floating around with the ability to put it’s bundles in you and make more bundles.  That’s it.  It has no walls or organs or “brains”.  Bacteria do.  They have cell walls and stuff in them that lets them “think” and make tons more of themselves.  You’re just a good place for them to reproduce (yup, just like you did when you made that sick little snot machine).  What does this have to do with my super pathetic cutie?

Well, the provider has to look her over and decide if it’s more likely that she has a virus or bacterial illness.  That will let him/her decide how to treat your little.  If they think she has a virus, there’s nothing to do about it.  You just have to watch her, keep her as comfortable as possible, and keep her hydrated.  If the provider thinks she has a disease caused by bacteria, that’s the only time she should get an antibiotic.

Moral of the story: you get antibiotics if you have an illness caused by bacteria, none if it’s a virus.  So if your provider doesn’t give your little an antibiotic, don’t freak and say terrible things about the provider; they just think your little has a virus.  Like I said, if she has a virus, that antibiotic will help you more than your little.